David Brandt Berg
Some people experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the same time they ask Jesus into their hearts, like the household of Cornelius in the book of Acts. When Peter preached the Word, “the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard (spiritually received) the word” (Acts 10:44). However, with most people the baptism of the Spirit is a subsequent experience to salvation. This experience is recorded in Acts 8:14–17. Here we read of some who were saved; they “had received the word” (Jesus), but they didn’t receive this spiritual infilling until Peter “came down and prayed with them … and they received the Holy Ghost.”
Everyone receives a measure of the Spirit upon believing on and receiving Jesus, because Paul said, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Romans 8:9). But the baptism of the Spirit is when Jesus in you baptizes (or fills) you with the Holy Ghost, just as John the Baptist promised He would: “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Matthew 3:11).
So when we say a person is baptized in the Holy Spirit, we mean all those who receive the Holy Spirit in power, whether by faith, sign, manifestation, or other witness. In other words, those who manifest the overflow of God’s spiritual power in some way, for “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (1 Corinthians 12:7).
The gifts of the Spirit
If you have Jesus and are filled with His Holy Spirit, you can experience the wonderful world of the Spirit—its exciting sights, sounds, visions, voices, and even resultant physical thrills, like talking in tongues: manifestations, or gifts of the Spirit.
This gift of other tongues is the most usual immediate manifestation of the Spirit baptism, as it was with the disciples; “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). However, don’t limit God and say He has to operate the same way all the time, as this is not the only proof of the spiritual overflow. Eight other gifts are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8–10: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, and interpretation.
But remember, even these wonderful gifts of the Spirit which we now have are almost like childish toys compared to what’s coming. They are just tiny gifts from a loving Father to His simple little children to help communicate understanding of Himself and His will. They are only a sample of glorious realities to come when Jesus comes again and we shall see Him as He is and be literally like Him, face to face, actually experiencing the fullness of the realities of God, which we only have by faith now in the realm of the Spirit. And Paul even said in his prediction to the Corinthians that when we see Jesus face to face, we shall put away even these childish gifts of communication in the Spirit. For “whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come (Jesus), then that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:8–10).
The power of the Holy Spirit
The baptism of the Holy Ghost is not given to you so you can just play with spiritual gifts. The main reason for the baptism in the Spirit is to give you power to witness! As Jesus said, “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you and ye shall be witnesses unto Me” (Acts 1:8).
A new believer with the Spirit and a handful of good verses and a will to witness can accomplish a lot—if you’ll just learn to obey the Lord and follow Jesus. The pharisaical church leaders “perceived that they (Peter and John) were unlearned and ignorant men” (Acts 4:13), yet Peter, under the power and anointing of the Holy Ghost, stood up with the eleven on the Day of Pentecost and he let the crowd have it, and he got a tremendous harvest of 3,000 souls.
When it comes to the showdown, only the miracle-working power of the Holy Spirit of God can really do the job and win their hearts, so remember, it’s just “not by (your) might, nor by (your) power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20). “And my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). … “Truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord” (Micah 3:8).
Holy Spirit transformation
It only takes one blast of the mighty, searing power of the Holy Ghost to completely burn out all the Devil’s old circuits in a mighty infilling of God’s Spirit—God’s great electrical power. All you do is let the light in, and the darkness will flee of itself!
Then begins the transforming, the creation of totally new circuits, responses, reactions, by the tender, loving hands of the Holy Spirit, following the circuit pattern or schematic of His Word, completely rewired for His constructive purposes. As the apostle said, “Be not conformed to this world (or system), but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind … by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 12:2).
Keeping in tune with the Spirit
Some have said, “I have no need of the Bible or His Prophets; His Spirit will lead me into all truth!” And He will, through His Word and His prophets, as well as your individual leadings and personal revelations. But if you think you don’t need the Word now that you have the Spirit, let me tell you, Jesus said, “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63).
I didn’t find the truth until I began to heed His Spirit, but it was the voice of His Spirit in His Word! For, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).
It’s the Spirit that sets us free, “and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). But of course, when you do allow freedom of the spirit you sometimes open the door to false spirits too. It is a heavy responsibility. But the mistake too many churches have made because they’re afraid of wildfire is that they don’t allow any fire. And I don’t blame them. If they haven’t got the Holy Ghost, they’d better beware of the unholy ghosts.
However, the Lord promised that He’d pour out His Spirit on His servants and handmaidens, so that you may be anointed and inspired from on high in all you do (Acts 2:18). But may you never fail to measure that anointing by the Word and God’s guidance, that you may know you’re right and that it is of His Spirit. I always try to test everything with Scripture, as the prophet said, “If they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).
Importance of the spiritual over the physical
In order to emphasize the importance of the spiritual over the physical, Jesus said to His disciples, “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) will not come unto you; but if I depart I will send Him unto you” (John 16:7).
He had to depart because His apostles weren’t fully conscious of His truth and His Spirit and the real meaning of it all when He was still with them bodily and physically. After three years, “Philip saith unto Jesus, Show us the Father (His Spirit), and Jesus said, Have I been so long time with you and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9).
As long as they had His bodily presence, they couldn’t really get into the spirit of it all. They didn’t need His Spirit. They had Him! Why should they worry about what He meant? He was there! This is why He had to leave them physically, so they could truly understand Him spiritually. He had to take His body away so they could feel His Spirit—get their minds off the flesh—get their hearts in His Spirit.
You know Jesus better now than they did then. You understand His truth and power better now than they did when He was with them physically, because you now have His power. Their flesh, even His flesh, had actually gotten in their way and prevented them from sensing the genuine Spirit of real truth, of which His body was a mere physical representation. But now that He has removed Himself to headquarters, the throne of the Father, the central broadcasting station, we can all be reached equally, fairly and simultaneously by His power, the communication of His Holy Spirit. He had to go away so that it would be possible to “pour out My Spirit upon all flesh.” For He “ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things” (Ephesians 4:10).
How to receive the Spirit
If a baby asks for milk, you’re sure not going to give him a serpent or something else (Matthew 7:9–10). You’re going to give him what he needs. So if you really believe and ask the Lord, you must expect that what you get is from the Lord. He likes to fill every place that’s made for Him—every place where you open up your heart, your spirit, His Spirit will flow in in all His power.
It’s so simple! Jesus said, “Every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. If ye being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him” (Matthew 7:8, 11).
Just open up your heart and let the sunshine in. Simply pray and ask Jesus to fill you with His Spirit, and He will. Why don’t you try it?
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